Recently there have been a few evenings when I wanted a quick dinner only to realize that there was no more pasta sauce and the only broth was frozen. Last summer was cool and rainy, good for the greens and beans, but not so good for the tomatoes, plus I had planted fewer of them as I was overwhelmed the prior summer. Because the harvest was lighter and more sporadic, I blanched, peeled and froze the tomatoes in vacuum seal bags, instead of canning them into the usual pasta sauce, tomatoes with green chilies and plain tomatoes. Periodically this winter, I have hauled out a few bags and made enough pasta sauce for a couple of dinners, freezing the extra. I don’t like using the microwave, though we have one, so thawing sauce or broth requires foresight.
Today and tomorrow are beautiful early springlike days, highs in the 60s, sunny with the buds beginning to show on the lilacs and forsythia. These are the days when Jim wants to get on his motorcycle and go for a ride. His rides give me time to do crafts or household jobs. I decided early today that I was going to take most of the remaining frozen tomatoes and make a big pot of sauce and can it so that dinner is just a few steps to the pantry, a box of pasta and in the time it takes to boil the water and heat the noodles, the sauce can be heated.
When we killed chickens last fall, we cut some into pieces and as we don’t have a cleaver, we deboned the breasts. That left us with several carcasses with back meat and random other meat scraps on them. They were bagged together and thrown in the freezer with the bagged and sealed birds and parts. This seemed like a good day to take care of them too and to thaw the 2 quarts of turkey broth in the freezer and make pints of broth, also canned to have quickly available to cook rice or as the base for soup or potpie.
Late winter is not the usual time for canning around here, but the empty jars, lids and three large pots were hauled out. Sauce cooked in one, broth simmering in the second and finally, several inches of water started to boiling in the pressure canner.
The 10 pints of tomato sauce have finished canning, 9 pints of broth are building pressure and as soon as the pressure is down enough to open the canner, the last 3 pints of broth will go into the canner for processing.
As a bonus, the carcasses yielded 11 ounces of cooked chicken to add to soup or a casserole. This will make meal prep easier for the remainder of winter and spring until the garden starts giving us fresh goodness to enjoy. It will also let me consolidate the remaining frozen produce and chickens into the refrigerator freezer to let the chest freezer defrost and get a good cleaning before we have more table birds and produce to add to it.
Not a bad day’s work.
Life is always an adventure on our mountain farm.